The future workplace will include Web 2.0-inspired applications such as RSS, blogs, rich Internet applications (RIAs), tagging, virtual worlds and wikis, according to a recent report by Forrester detailing the "The Seven Tenets of the Information Workplace."
"Some companies have adopted them more heavily than others," says Erica Driver, a Forrester analyst who contributed to the report. She says her research indicates that when it comes to choosing providers for these technologies, a lot of enterprise CIOs might play it safe. "As they try to develop information workplace strategies, they want to get as much Web 2.0 as they can from incumbent vendors," she says.
But Driver says CIOs shouldn't shun the younger vendors who have come up with pure play offerings such as wikis and blogs with enterprise-worthy functionality. "They're responsible for a lot of the innovation out there."
With that in mind, here's a quick summary of the seven tenets and the technology behind them:
Workers shouldn't have to keep clicking and opening different applications. Instead, technologies such as RSS will push information to the end-user's portal. Also, users will make use of virtual worlds where co-workers can interact with one another (in the form of avatars). Inside these worlds, they can view technologies such as presentations, word processing documents and spreadsheets like they would in the real world.
This is predicated on the idea that users are at the center of their own universe. To enable these individualized experiences, core Web 2.0 technologies can be employed by IT, including RIAs, mashups, RSS, tagging, social networking, podcasts and virtual worlds.
Right now, the information worker who deals with multiple applications lives off the "ALT + TAB" command to toggle between them. In the new information workplace, good RIAs will replace traditional desktop applications but hold on to some of the great functionality, including control, instant feedback and efficient task flow—functions its older brother, HTML-based Web applications, tried but often failed to address. Tagging will also allow the individual user to categorize information in a way he wants, preventing the need to thumb through electronic folders.
Traditionally, information in business has been delivered to end-users primarily through texts and numbers. The future workplace will deliver it through 3D (again, often through a virtual world) or through RIAs and mashups. The ability to show information graphically (instead of textually) will cut down on "information overload" and deliver it in a more user-friendly way.
Simply, this tenet means mashups. The user can take whatever aspect of various applications she likes and squish them into one.
This tenet cuts to the core of what the information workplace means to the modern day worker. It incorporates all of the big Web 2.0 technologies—including profiles of workers, tagging, shared bookmarks, blogs, wikis and community members. In a social environment, information doesn't get moved to neat and tidy repositories (like folders). Instead, it lives much more freely and is found through tagging and search. Users gravitate towards social groups that interest them and contribute to them accordingly.
The old information workplace operated on on-premise software that took forever to install, and sometimes just as long to update. The new workplace will operate on principles of SOA and hosted services that promote speed-to-user rather than tiresome command-and-control architecture. The beauty is, if a CIO does this right by using enterprise-worthy vendors, they can have a fast delivery model but keep administrator access to ensure compliance and security.